Model trains speed past the Metropolitan Museum and Macy’s in Herald Square at the New York Botanical Garden as Christmas trees and lights warm the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Transformed every year for over two decades, the Holiday Train Show takes over the expansive conservatory with New York landmarks against a backdrop of plants as the sounds of g-scale model trains filling the space.
The Holiday Train Show is truly spectacular. Each landmark is created using natural materials! Whether it is a mosaic of leaves to decorate the roof of a building or an orange rind to make a window, each building utilizes an artistic vision to be re-created. The Gothic Arch in Central Park is created using intertwining twigs, and the circular design of the Guggenheim Museum appears to be recreated using mushroom caps. The marriage of nature and architecture is unique in this display but more so it is surreal and inspiring.
Located in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden is accessible by public transportation or you can park the car in a nearby lot. We took the Metro North from Grand Central which enabled us to walk to Rockefeller Center afterwards and look at some of the holiday lights. When you arrive, you need to select a time to enter the conservatory which helps control how many people are at the Holiday Train Show but there is no time limit to leave. It is a small walk to the Conservatory passing the Visitor Center, Gift Shop and the Pine Tree Cafe.
After watching a brief movie introducing the magic behind the show, we strolled into a visual playroom of iconic buildings complemented with trains moving in every direction. Your eyes will focus on the buildings in front of them to quickly scan to the trains whizzing by in front of the buildings and then on bridges suspended above them. The “wow” factor will strike you immediately and never leave as each room is more stunning than the previous one.
The landmarks are organized into groupings such as Museums and Row Houses. When you visit, encourage your children to identify all the items in the buildings, ask them to find how leaves are used in the landmarks or ask them about the importance of the buildings in New York history. The opportunity for conversations is massive with a multi-sensory and immersive experience like the Holiday Train Show!
After looking at photos of the Holiday Train Show as well as watching videos, neither fully captures how exceptional this unique experience truly is. Contrasting views of nature molded into modern structure next to metal trains against the backdrop of living plants creates a surreal destination. Children (and those young at heart) will marvel at 150 landmarks when this fantastical voyage launches on November 22 until January 15, 2018. Prices vary by age and whether you visit on a weekday or weekend. You can save 20% on Select Weekday All-Garden Pass Tickets when you use code 9426 online at nybg.org New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10458-5126. You can look at photos from our 2017 visit on our Facebook album here!
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